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ITS to Showcase Heavy-Duty Plug-in Hybrid Retrofit at Sydney Truck Show

Argosy
The Argosy Hybrid. Click to enlarge.

Innovative Transport Solutions Pty. Ltd., an Australian startup that developed a retrofit plug-in hybrid electric conversion system for heavy-duty vehicles (earlier post), has entered into an alliance with Australia’s Cooperative Research Centre for Forestry (CRC for Forestry) and TimberCorp to produce a purpose-built 6x6 electric hybrid prototype retrofit and an electric hybrid road-train prime mover (truck/tractor) for the Australian forestry industry.

The prototype Argosy Hybrid will be shown at the Sydney Truck Show, 7-9 August 2008. The truck will be in service for preliminary trials on a Sydney-Melbourne route (about 1,900 km (1,200 miles) round-trip) soon after the show. Expected reduction in fuel consumption and emissions output is 25%.

The Argosy hybrid is based on a 07/2006 model Freightliner Argosy 101 Prime Mover Sleeper Cab, equipped with an Eaton Fuller 18 speed Auto change transmission and Cummins 6-cylinder 550 hp turbodiesel.

The conversion replaces the trailing, non-drive rear differential/axle with a duplicate front differential/axle. The output shaft of the replacement is connected to the electric motor/generator. A combination of ultracapacitors and a lithium-ion battery (supplier still to be determined) mounted between the chassis rails in front of the turntable store the electricity for the motor/generator. The electric motor is liquid cooled, with a suitable cooling unit fitted to the chassis.

Proposed modes of operation for the hybrid trucks include:

  • Truck leaves terminal with fully charged batteries via the electricity grid.

  • Acceleration using combination diesel and electric assistance.

  • Highway cruising using diesel only and cruise control.

  • Hill climbing with cruise control engaging electric assistance to maintain road speed. Diesel rpms and throttle position remain static.

  • Down hill, regenerative braking slows the vehicle and recharges the batteries. Diesel engine rpms remain low, no over revving. Braking also recharges batteries and saves brake wear.

  • Quiet mode, electric assist is engaged to maintain road speed while diesel engine only idles. This is for travelling slowly through towns and cities to reduce noise pollution.

There is a severe shortage of used 6x6 truck tractors in Australia. One aspect of the purpose-built ITS solution for the timber industry—which CRC for Forestry is quite interested in—is the simple conversion of 6x4 prime movers into 6x6 drive. The timber industry requires the more robust drive to move trailers around the work areas with their very poor road quality. CRC for Forestry is also interested in cutting the fuel consumption of the line haul trucks, which haul semi-trailer and road trains with gross vehicle weights of up to 90,000 kg (198,416 lbs) an typically operate 40-50% of the time empty with an average fuel consumption of 60-80 L/100km (2.9-3.9 mpg US).

Tc1
Another approach to converting a 6x4 tractor to a 6x6 with hybrid electric drive. Click to enlarge.

ITS is also developing a different approach to converting a 6x4 drive to a 6x6: the replacement of the front non-drive axle with an electric-drive steer axle. A PTO-driven alternator supplies power to drive the new front axle and recharges the on-board electric storage system. (See diagram at right.)

ITS is working on a number of other conversions, including some for light-duty vehicles, and is developing a conversion for a new truck for a US client, due to debut early in 2009.

Comments

jcwinnie

I would like to be incorrect about this. It is my understanding that strictly diesel power is more fuel efficient than hybrid for highway transportation.

It would seem to make more sense if shippers used more efficient freight by rail, with hostler ("short haul") trucks converted to hybrids wherever there is a certain percentage of stop and go driving.

(My bet is that UPS knows the minimum percent but ain't saying.)

philmcneal

honestly they should have hybrid big rigs a long time ago, those numbers are disgusting for just the work it does alone...

i'm surprised the planet can take so much abuse.

J T

Holy quick changes Batman,
Can you say "instant retrofit at minimal cost" ...

I suspect a similar retrofit in many ICE cars is also possible by changing the drive shaft to accommodate an electric motor/generator.

Reality Czech

Converting a 3-axle heavy truck is a different matter from converting a front-wheel drive car.

Reality Czech

I agree, but you probably could do this to a 4 wheel drive car or light truck, maybe even easier in a 2 wheel drive truck made for 2 or 4 wheel drive use

Kevin

J T

converting a front-wheel drive car.

~ Unbolt rear axle.
~ Acquire similar sized axle for a rear wheel drive car, unbolt front differential end bell and attach electric motor/generator.
~ Make minor sheet metal changes to accept new assembly.
~ Attach accelerator and brake controls to pedals, and tie into controller.
~ Batteries take up some trunk space.

Can you say "instant retrofit at minimal cost"

Jon

J T
You obviously know very little about modern automobiles.

"Unbolt rear axle." New front wheel drive cars don't have rear axles. Occasionally a minivan will have a beam and some crossovers that have 4wd as an option will have a cutout in place for a differential.

"Acquire similar sized axle". This statement just makes no sense. What is a "front differential end bell"?

"Make minor sheet metal changes" On unibody cars those minor changes affect the overall strength of the body and negatively affect its crashworthiness.

"Attach accelerator and brake controls" The software to balance the original engine with the electric motor would be very complicated and different for each model and engine transmission/transaxle combination.

"Batteries take up some trunk space" That right they do. They also weigh down the suspension change the center of gravity and affect braking.

I could go more in depth but I will leave you with this.

Can you say long term retrofit at a major cost to your wallet and everyone else’s safety?

arnold

Once the offroad advantages are identified, the value in this approch is leveraged.
The axle weight penalty will reduce as lighter more powerfull electric motors become available.
The P.T.O. driven alternater can be mechanically isolated and easily fitted. But more difficult to maximise regen braking force as it may not be heavy enough ? Disengaging the engine to allow the full braking force to the alternator requires a dual clutch, selecting nuetral or some other?
note similarities with Mercades proposed two E motor input 4wd gearbox.
Now that Cummins / Westport CNG motors are available.....

Congratulations on finding suitable partners.

arnold

Once the offroad advantages are identified, the value in this approch is leveraged.
The axle weight penalty will reduce as lighter more powerfull electric motors become available.
The P.T.O. driven alternater can be mechanically isolated and easily fitted. But more difficult to maximise regen braking force as it may not be heavy enough ? Disengaging the engine to allow the full braking force to the alternator requires a dual clutch, selecting nuetral or some other?
note similarities with Mercades proposed two E motor input 4wd gearbox.
Now that Cummins / Westport CNG motors are available.....

Congratulations on finding suitable partners.

Henry Gibson

WARNING!!! High energy, high or low ambiant temperature operation of electric hybrid vehicles is perfect for the use of ZEBRA batteries. See the General Electric report on their tests of ZEBRA batteries in hybrid locomotives and mine trucks. They are far more robust than lithium batteries, and ULTRA capacitors are a waste of money because they store almost no actual energy for their price when used in a heavy vehicle where more ZEBRA batteries could be easily accomodated for the instantaneous power wanted. Even if there is not any electricity in a stopping area to supply the power to keep the batteries hot, the residual heat and chemical energy in the batteries can be used for several days, and a small generator could then take over from there, but the point is to stop where the batteries can also be charged to save on fuel costs. Another obvious instant modification is to put a powered axel on the trailers also with ZEBRA batteries. Electric hydraulic units would replace ULTRA capacitors with cheap air tanks.... ...HG...

Henry Gibson

There seems to be always a fuel advantage for operating a hybrid vehicle. If the size and friction loss of the engine can be reduced this is alway the case. General Electric has demonstrated that even rail locomotives get an advantage if equipped as hybrid. It may not be true that the additional cost is worth the fuel gains, but it is more likely in a road tractor or trailer that is used most of the time. Hydraulic hybrids are likely to be less costly, and a simple battery powered electric pump can be operated for plug in operation... ..HG..

Aussie

FWIW forestry roads in Australia are renowned for their high standard of maintenance. So much so that you can safely drive a 2WD compact car into remote areas. I wonder if the hybrid conversion is part of an attempt to give the industry a greener image ie carbon capture by forests and reduced fuel use by trucks.

arnold

At this rate we will be allocating a different energy rating to washing machines depending on the occupation of the user?
There are many different road surfaces and terrains in a country the size of oz, and many uses besides forestry to which a 4* or 6* could (and do) see use.
A small compact car may well get through some of these forestry roads, but a fully laden log truck is a very different matter.
You obviously disapprove of forestry practices, that is not relevant to the tecnology being discussed.
What is important is the value of a technology to improve efficiency and reduce pollution.
It is a good thing if forestry are concerned about their industry image but in this instance there is simple utilitarian objective.
To get in and out as efficiently and economically as possible.
I dont think there will be any restriction placed on this concept being used for its many other benifits.

fred schumacher

They must have good forestry roads if they're using tag-axle tandems instead of twin-screws. Up here in northern Minnesota you would get nowhere with a tag-axle, so adding an electric drive to the tag-axle is not an option in areas with poor roads and winter driving conditions, where a twin-screw set-up is the norm. (A tag-axle has a single driven axle and undriven trailing axle, sometimes with a hydraulic lift, in which case it's called a lifting tag; a twin-screw has both axles driven.)

A better solution for general trucking would be to go to a series hybrid like railroad locomotives -- a diesel-electric genset with no mechanical transmission and all axles, including the trailer's, as drivers. The engine could then be a slow-turning, long-stroke engine, like marine diesels which approach 45% efficiency.

Aussie

I just asked a log truck driver 'why do you need 6-wheel drive?'. Answer 'to carry bigger loads'. I think the standard prime mover and trailer combo weighs about 39 tonnes fully laden. God help any small car hit by an even bigger behemoth.

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